Top 12+1 Things to Do and Visit in Istanbul today

Istanbul is a historic city having a very long history dating back to the days of the Ottoman Empire. It is rich in culture and heritage and when you visit this wonderful city, you will be taken to the days of the last Empires that ruled and shaped the world that is today.

There are many tourist attractions in Istanbul and a casual visitor to this historical City can enjoy both modern as well as historical places to know how people lived during the last ages.

Hagia Sophia


This is an architectural wonder of those ages it was first built as a church and then turned into a Mosque. Now it is a grand Museum that showcases to the world the wonderful way the people lived during the ages of the Empires.

Hajia Sofia is given a new life after restoration works now it is a place for you to enjoy artifacts in their own light. A special feature of this Hajia Sophia is its 43-meter wide dome standing 65 meters above your head.

It is a real wonder how such a big structure was constructed during those primitive ages. You can climb up the spiral ramp to go to the gallery and have a view of the splendid Byzantine mosaics. Special among them is the mosaic depicting Jesus Christ flanked by Emperor Constantine XI and his wife Empress Zoa.

Topkapi Palace


Topkapi Palace is one of the must-see places when you are in Istanbul. This is an old palace where Sultan lived and flourished for many centuries.

Now it is a complex of shops and pavilions connected by 4 lush green courtyards. The must-see places in this palace are the Harem, the decorated cage of the Sultan’s  Women, the treasury building where the Crown jewels were stored, and weapons’ room where you can view the wonderful craftsmanship of the Ottoman weapon-making skills.

You can have a good view of the Sea of Marmara the Bosphorus and Golden Horn.

Bosphorus Cruise


Bosphorus Cruise is one of the best attractions in Istanbul. When you are on this Bosphorus Cruise you have a nice view of the city skyline and you can see the European and Asian shores on both sides of the cruise.

You can enjoy the stunning views of the Palaces and splendid Mansions that enrich the city’s architecture. Now different versions of the cruises are available a short one that takes you to the second suspension bridge and back and a long one that takes you through the edges of the Black Sea and back. You can also have a sunset tour during the summertime

Basilica Cistern


The Basilica cistern is another fascinating underground structure you should visit and enjoy while traveling in Istanbul. This is an underground structure that gives a clear picture of the ability of those in that era to construct and manage an underground water system.

It is an engineering marvel of Byzantine engineering containing a spectacular underground cistern constructed to bring drinking water from Bulgaria to Istanbul. This goes through wonderfully constructed aqueducts.

When you are in this place you will be mesmerized by the dim lighting with classical music dominated by the sound of tipping water. This adds a romantic outlook and an experience to the new visitor to this great city can never forget.

You can go on the walkways to watch fishes swim between the 336 columns that are built to support the ceiling at the end of the walkway lies the Medusa head

The Grand Bazaar


The Grand Bazaar Grand Bazaar is the Grand way of fulfilling the desires of an avid shopper this Bazaar is over 500 years old but still, it is one of the largest covered Bazaar in the whole world.

It has 60 Streets containing more than 5000 shops. You can have any type of food served by 60 restaurants and enjoy the scenic beauty of 18 fountains. There are 12 mosques within the Bazaar and now you can even see a school functioning within the Grand Bazaar.

This Bazaar is used both by locals as well as tourists and you can find great bargains in buying carpets, leather ceramics, souvenirs, and jewelry.

The Archaeology Museum


The archaeology museum is yet another important attraction in Istanbul. This is a real museum that exhibits one of the richest collections of classical antiquities.

In this Museum you can see the sarcophagus of Alexander the Great that gives us the important events of his life and adventures. You should not miss the blue-tiled Mihrab and also the beautifully tiled pavilion.

If you want to see the world’s earliest peace Treaty, you can see it in the form of Treaty of Khadesh if you are going to the museum with your children they will enjoy the model Trojan horse in the children’s section

Süleymaniye Mosque


If you are a religious person and want to spend some time in peace with God, then the Suleymaniye mosque is the right option for you. It is one of the nicest and impressive Istanbul Mosques that attracts a lesser number of tourists and hence it offers the right atmosphere for peaceful time praying and spending your time in silence with spiritual thoughts.

This Mosque is an architectural beauty designed by the famous architect Sinan for Suleiman the Magnificent. In the present day, it is now more than a place of worship and it houses a Hospital, Kitchen and a school excreta.

The Chora Church


The Chora Church is also called a Kariya museum. The church also called a church of Saint Savior and it is a nice place worth visiting while you are in Istanbul.

It is situated in Chora or Edirnakapi and lies next to the old city walls. It is one of the most important religious places in Istanbul. The best part of this Church is that the walls and ceilings are adorned with beautiful Byzantine mosaic and fabulous frescoes that are very important to the Christian world.

While here you can also enjoy the remains of the old city walls dating back to the 5th century and some of the Ottoman houses made of wood

Dolmabahçe Palace


Dolmabahce Palace is a fascinating landmark in Istanbul. It is a huge Palace running to 600 meters in length and this beautifully carved building contains more than 285 rooms and 43 salons.

It was built in the year 1856 by Sultan Abdul Meist When the Ottoman Empire was declining. This palace was built to show that the Ottoman Empire was still in good shape. The construction of the palace was made with huge expenses which can be seen from the excessive use of leaves made of gold, crystals, and marble.

You will be amazed by the beauty and features of the Crystal staircase and the main bathroom. It also features one of the biggest challenges in the world 4.5-ton Chandelier in the ceremonial hall and you have to see it believe it’s excellent style, shape, and amazing beauty

The Galata Tower


The Galata Tower is the best place for getting a panoramic view of modern Istanbul City. Here you will be mesmerized with the 360-degree panoramic view of the city. On a bright day, it is possible to spot Princess Islands from this 60 meter Tower.

You can enjoy your choice of food in restaurants and cafes on the 9th floor. After exploring the city from the tower come down and walk in the streets of Galata surrounding the tower you can have a drink and some food or on any of the restaurants that serve any type of food you want. The food here is cheap and tasty

The Bebek and Ortakoy

Istanbul, Ortaköy, Bebek

Bebek and Ortakoy are two villages that lie adjacent to the city of Istanbul. If you want to taste rural life in the modern era then you can plan a visit to these two villages.

Bebek is one of the green velvety and lively neighborhood nearly Bosporus and is frequently visited by the locals and the tourists. Here you can have the food of your choice enjoying the wonderful view of the cityscape. You can go for a nice stroll on the boardwalk with a drink in one of the many cafes dotting the streets.

Ortakoy is an integral part of the Bosphorus tour you can visit the Mosque by the Shore near the first Bridge. If you are in Istanbul on a Sunday don’t forget to visit the crafts market and you can enjoy many of the car-free cobblestone streets filled with restaurants and cafes

Local Markets of Istanbul


If you like shopping in Istanbul to satisfy the shopping freak in you the local markets of Istanbul can give a range of fares that you cannot refuse. Local markets offer a variety of goods to the visitors and you can shop and spend your time to your heart’s delight. These town markets are called Pazar and can look overwhelming at first sight but can give a welcome stare when you get into it.

Unless you know the Turkish language it may be difficult for communication but still, you will be able to manage with other languages and get the best deals that you cannot forget in your life.

Go to a Hamam for a refreshing massage

If you want to experience the intimate and personal Turkish hospitality then you can go and enjoy a body scrubbing from a Hamam.  This is one of the ways of Istanbul offering a personal touch to its visitors. By going to a Hamam is the best way of rejuvenating your body and mind together and this is the right way of toning up your body.  After a hot day of working here and there, your body gets tired and you can walk into a Hamam for a good scrubbing. There you can just relax on a hot marble listening to soft music.  You get a soap body scrub and the here sultan’s massage making your skin smooth and soft. Though there are many Hamams available in the city of Istanbul the oldest is the Ayasofya Hurriem Sultan Hamam and Kilick Ali Pasa Pasha Hamam.

and… how to get around Istanbul?

To get around Istanbul, it is best to fly to the new Istanbul Airport, and once there rent a car and do some sightseeing at your own pace. Istanbul has a new airport that was opened recently in the month of April 2019. It has the biggest terminal building in the world, with all the facilities. It is the operational hub for Turkish Airlines and a host of other airlines.  The Ataturk Airport was the old airport and it could not cater to the growing needs of Turkish Airlines and a new Airport was planned and constructed with all facilities to handle 90 million passengers a year. When all the ongoing construction work is over, it will have 15.5 million square feet of terminal space which is the largest area for a single terminal in the whole world.

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